(I'm just going to pretend it's not taking me two months to write up this trip report so that I don't feel guilty about the turnaround time. Although really, the only person reading is my mom (hi mom!) and she doesn't care how long it takes.)
On our first morning at Middle Beach Lodge we made our way to the main Lodge room for what was described as "continental breakfast" on the website. No one had really talked about it on TripAdvisor.com so I had no idea what to expect. We've had some amazing continental breakfasts in Rome (salami in the morning? Yes, please.) and some why bother continental breakfasts all over. The spread at MBL doesn't change from day to day but it's a perfect way to start your morning off right - orange juice, apple juice or grapefruit juice; bananas or apples; corn flakes, cheerios or granola; muesli with yogurt; bagels or toast; muffins and the most amazing cinnamon bun you'll ever consume.
Before coming to British Columbia one of the things I knew I wanted to do was go bear watching. The time of year was perfect - they're fattening up for the long winter ahead - so you're pretty much guaranteed to see them down along the water's edge looking for crabs and other foodstuffs. The boat we went on held a number of people and it was a lot different than I expected it to be, but going on this vessel meant that we didn't have to wear the giant yellow water suits which would have been terrible given that the temperatures went up to about 70 degrees that afternoon. Unfortunately, by being on this boat it also meant that we were trapped with three children under the age of four for several hours. The oldest daughter was okay, but the two youngest were terrible. It's not their fault though; I blame the parents. Why would you take young kids on a boat where there's nothing for them to do but watch the scenery for hours on end? Within the first hour the baby was crying (and continued to cry on and off for the five hours we were on the boat) and the middle kid was running around and howling about how he was hungry and bored and it was just generally a bad scene. Yes, I realize the parents probably wanted to see bears, but by choosing to go on this trip, they basically sacrificed the enjoyment of 38 other people, including their children. There are some activities that are child friendly and others that are not. This was not one of them.
We had pretty much perfect weather for the entirety of our boat ride, if a bit warm for my liking. The sky was crystal blue and the inlet like glass. On the trip we saw a lone male black bear and then a momma bear and her two cubs, two bald eagles and a group of harbor seals. I would call this light wild life seeing as how the boats on the trips the couple of days before us reported much more activity but we got what we paid for so I can't really complain, especially given how utterly beautiful and magnificent our surroundings were.
After our bear tour we stopped at what is probably the most "famous" restaurant in Tofino, SOBO. It started out as a food truck but as it became more popular the chef (who focuses on sustainable, organic foods) moved into a larger, more permanent space. I forget what Alan ordered but I had probably the best peanut sauce I've had my whole life. I could have drank it (and probably made myself sick, but I would have been been a happy camper on the way down). We also stopped in to the local liquor store, which incidentally is the only place you can buy beer and booze, to pick up beer as we'd been doing a lot of beer drinking on this trip and we knew we needed to stock up. We also stopped at a local fish story (Trilogy, I think) to buy fresh from the boat crab for dinner that night. Before eating though we made our way down the highway to check out Chesterman Beach which is where a lot of the cold water surfing competitions take place, and a major spot for winter storm watching. While we were there the weather was calm as a lake - a slight breeze and the tinest of waves lapping the shore. You could walk for miles in each direction (we did) and just wonder at the beauty of this area and how it's not become overrun with tourists and buildings. Initially we had wanted to stay at a place on Chesterman but at $400+/night, the most beautiful place to stay is also the most cost prohibitive. In the end, I'm happy we got to visit but I actually much preferred our location and Mackenzie Beach, just down the road.
For dinner we ate the crab we bought earlier on the day out on the porch and drank the wine we'd purchased the day before in the Cowichan Valley and it was the absolute most perfect dinner you can imagine. No fancy restaurant, no waiters or waitresses - just us, our food and the beauty of the area surrounding us. If I sound relaxed about it all it's because by this time I had vowed that I never wanted to leave and declared Tofino my other happiest place in the world (Hawaii being the other).
After dinner we grabbed our local beer and "hiked" down to Mackenzie Beach to watch the sun set. While there were probably hundreds of other people down there - including the campers from the campsites along the trees lining the beach - the beach is so wide and long that you don't really feel crowded at all.
With the sun set, we hiked back to our room (getting smacked in the eyeball by an errant twig along the way), took a long soak it the huge tub and settled in for the night with good books and comfy blankets. All in all, a very good day.